In my posts IELTS Writing Task 1 – Informal letters layout and IELTS Writing Task 1 – Formal letters layout, I talked about the importance of getting the layout of a letter right, in preparation for General Training IELTS Writing Task 1.
In this post I’d like to look at some useful phrases and language for formal letters and informal letters. I have deliberately kept the list short by thinking of the most useful letter phrases for the IELTS Writing Test.
If a phrase is more suitable for an informal letter, I have marked it IF. If a phrase is more suitable for a formal letter, I have marked it F.
Useful language for IELTS Writing Task 1
Referring to previous contact
• It was good / nice to hear from you….…(IF)
• Thank you for / With reference to / Further to / In reply to your letter of / dated……….(F)
Beginnings / Introductory phrases
• I’m sorry I haven’t written / haven’t been in touch for such a long time…(IF)
• It’s been ages since I’ve heard from you. I hope you’re well……(IF)
• I am writing to enquire about / to confirm that / to inform you of…..(F)
• I am writing to apologise for / about…..
• I am sorry for any inconvenience this has caused.
Giving news / information
• I thought you might be interested to hear about / to know that……
• This is just to let you know that………..(IF)
• By the way, have you heard about / did you know that…….(IF)
Recommending / Giving advice
• I would/wouldn’t recommend……
• If I were you, I’d ………….(IF)
Endings / Concluding comments
• I look forward to hearing from you soon / in due course…………(F)
• Looking forward to hearing from / seeing you soon…………(IF)
• Once again, thank you for all your help………….
• Give my regards / love to………….(IF)
• If you have any further questions, please contact me on ….(F)
This is only a small selection of useful letter phrases as my aim here is to give you the ones I think are most useful for IELTS.
So how should you use this list? Well first of all, I recommend that you DON’T do what I see a lot of people do; learn the list off by heart!
You should look at the phrases and think about the situation / context you would use it in. When you’re doing IELTS Writing Test Task 1 practice letters, think about which phrases are suitable and use them.
If you’re short of time, look at sample IELTS Writing Test Task 1 questions (you can find many sample questions as well as other useful tips in Adams & Austen IELTS books.) and think about which phrases would be useful.
If you learn how to use some ‘letter phrases’ appropriately, together with a good letter layout, you’re on your way to achieving the IELTS band score you need.
Here’s to the best IELTS score possible!